Haylie McCleney Honored with NCAA Top 10 Award
Former University of Alabama softball player Haylie McCleney received her NCAA Top 10 award Wednesday night in Nashville, Tenn., at the NCAA Honors Celebration, part of the association’s annual convention.
The NCAA Top 10 Award recognizes student-athletes who have completed their athletic eligibility for their success in competition, in the classroom and in the community. McCleney is the 14th Alabama student-athlete to earn the award and the second Crimson Tide softball honoree, joining Brittany Rogers who earned the accolade in 2009.
“It’s just an honor to be here, surrounded by greatness everywhere,” McCleney said following the ceremony. “I never really thought anything like this was possible. The other award winners and just the people here for the convention - there are so many amazing people in collegiate athletics. Just to be a small part of that is incredible. To have my family here, to have Coach (Bill) Battle here, the commissioner of the SEC, Greg Sankey, is here, and of course Murph (Patrick Murphy) and Aly (Habetz), it’s special. It’s a night I’ll never forget.”
A four-year All-American, McCleney earned first-team honors in three of her four seasons. She completed her senior season in 2016 with four school career records, including a .447 career batting average. McCleney is just the fifth player in program history and the 21st in NCAA history to total 300 hits, 200 runs and 100 stolen bases. She is a four-time All-SEC and SEC All-Defensive team honoree.
She is a three-time First Team CoSIDA Academic All-American and a two-time Softball Academic All-American of the Year selection, just the third two-time winner for the sport of softball since the yearly award was introduced in 1988.
“Academically, Haylie was always an incredible student,” UA head coach Patrick Murphy said. “As a player, she went from being a tremendous athlete to team leader to servant leader. I think that’s what I’m most proud of, how she cares more about the people around her. I think this award, one of the highest honors the NCAA can bestow, reflects everything she accomplished in the classroom and on the field and the person she became.”
McCleney is just the second UA softball player to earn First Team honors as an All-American and Academic All-American in the same season, doing so three times over her career. She was named the 2016 H. Boyd McWhorter SEC Female Scholar-Athlete of the Year and was the 2015 SEC's Softball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. In 2016, McCleney graduated with a 4.0 cumulative grade point average in exercise science and won the Senior CLASS Award, which celebrates senior student-athletes who use their platform in athletics to make a positive impact as community leaders, and was a finalist for NCAA Woman of the Year honors.
“Haylie has won just about every award there is at the University, in the SEC and now in the NCAA,” Director of Athletics Bill Battle said. “She is a great credit to her family, her upbringing and her coaches. She is a great competitor. She competes in the classroom, on the softball field and in any endeavor she undertakes. We’re so proud of her and I was so pleased to hear her say that she’s interested in mentoring young people so they learn to have her qualities. We need teachers like that in our communities.”
The 14th Alabama athlete to receive the prestigious honor, McCleney’s selection marks the ninth time in 11 years a Crimson Tide student-athlete has received the award, joining Kim Jacob (gymnastics/2014), Barrett Jones (football/2013), Brooke Pancake (women's golf/2012), Kayla Hoffman (gymnastics/2011), Greg McElroy (football/2010), Rogers, Beth Mallory (track and field/2007) and DeMeco Ryans (football/2006).
Alabama's previous NCAA Top 10 (formerly the Top V, then Top VII and Top VIII) recipients include: Randy Hall (football/1975), Steadman Shealy (football/1980), Meredith Willard (gymnastics/1997), Andreé Pickens (gymnastics/2002), Sterner (gymnastics/2003), Rogers, McElroy, Hoffman, Pancake, Jones and Jacob.